As journalists, we’re not supposed to root for things.
The old saying amongst sports reporters has always been, “There’s no cheering in the press box.” For one thing, you just don’t look cool around your peers if you’re holding up a big foam finger and celebrating a good deed by the home team. For another, our fundamental mission is to provide our readers information in a clean, fair manner that carries neither bias nor prejudice.
This is obviously not only contained to the field of sports reporting, as reporters are constantly being reminded, both by themselves and their editors, to straddle the line of impartiality while covering politics or police beats. There are opinion pages in newspapers (such as this very page!), and that’s where opinions should remain.
However, behind the coffee stains, tired eyes and tape recorders, we are human beings at our cores, right?
So, yes, we obviously have things or people we prefer over others. We like when Indian River High School wins games, or Lower Sussex Little League does well, or when our friends or neighbors win elections to public office. That’s just human nature, and something that’s nearly impossible to completely deflect. But it is imperative that we remain neutral in the information we provide to you, and that is a never-ending quest.
That being said...
I have never in my life rooted for someone to remain relevant in an election than I am right now for Donald Trump. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are very few opponents he could have that would actually make me cast a ballot for him. But, as a columnist and avid political observer who enjoys a good metaphorical trainwreck as much as anybody, the longer Trump remains a “thing” in this election, the more material I have at my disposal.
The man can flat-out move the needle. Capitalizing on a political climate that is more divisive and full of rancor than at any time I can remember, Trump is equal parts Don King and Gilbert Gottfried. Like King, he can promote himself or what he’s doing to levels that have the other GOP candidates pulling out their hair, and, like Gottfried, well, he’s annoying.
When South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham called Trump a “jackass” recently, Trump countered by sharing Graham’s cell phone number to a cadre of reporters and announcing that Graham had begged Trump to help him get more exposure on Fox News. To his credit, Graham had a pretty good response on Twitter: “Probably getting a new phone. iPhone or Android?”
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, also a GOP candidate, could not escape Trump’s crosshairs, either. Perry has been seen sporting eyeglasses this election cycle, to which Trump offered this little nugget: “He put on glasses so people think he’s smart. People can see through the glasses.”
And while those have been pretty funny takes (at least to my warped sense of humor), Trump has also touched some raw nerves in his party on other comments, particularly when he disparaged U.S. Sen. John McCain’s war record, a man who served as a prisoner of war for six years and rejected an offer to be freed early because his men didn’t receive the same consideration.
Yeah, that one did not make me smile, particularly since Trump enjoyed deferments to keep from serving his country during Vietnam.
Of course, many of the GOP candidates also had to feel bile rise in their throats when Trump went after Mexicans who enter the nation illegally, suggesting that they are rapists and murderers, and basically stating that Mexican officials have purposely sent their worst citizens to the United States. This came shortly before the Washington Post wrote a story about all the illegal immigrants working on Trump’s hotel project in Washington, D.C.
The GOP has had a hard time getting the Latino vote over recent years, and have been working on better explaining their message to that demographic, and they had to feel absolutely torpedoed by Trump’s comments.
But he doesn’t backtrack on any of these shots, and he certainly doesn’t apologize, and that makes him must-watch entertainment.
For perspective, the first presidential election I was eligible to vote in was George H.W. Bush against Michael Dukakis. I was always a fan of the elder Bush and was very proud to serve under him while I was a member of the United States Marine Corps. In fact, I remember my father basically having to talk me out of depression when he lost his next election to Bill Clinton.
But my one silver lining out of that race was one H. Ross Perot — the eccentric billionaire who liked dropping verbal bombs on his opponents and filling up my column with every tantalizing sentence. The debates were priceless, and you could see everyone in the auditorium lean up in their seats a little more every time Perot began to speak.
So, yeah, I love Trump running in this election, even if I don’t love Trump, myself. And I’m guessing that’s part of what is making him fare so well in recent polls. Some consider him offering refreshing “straight talk” as opposed to the rhetoric we are used to being bombarded with, and that gets attention.
I hope it lasts, but not all the way to the White House.